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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 14 2013

NDSU pitcher Kingsley has found his home on the mound

Fargo - The next time North Dakota State head coach Tod Brown takes an in-home recruiting visit to a local Fargo-Moorhead player, it would be ideal if he could take Kyle Kingsley with him. He’s the perfect example of a Division I baseball success story.

Probably more well-known at Fargo South High School for playing on back-to-back state championship football teams, he opted for his true love of baseball and walked on to NDSU. At 6-foot-3, he had the size.

But what has really surfaced with the Bison is his pinpoint accuracy, added strength and intelligence – both on and off the field. A chemistry major, he was named to the Summit League all-academic team as a Distinguished Scholar.

Now a senior relief pitcher, it’s getting to the point where sentiment is starting to set in.

On Monday night, he and a couple of roommates went to a Fargo South baseball game and Kingsley said he started thinking about the entire high school-to-college process.

“The journey to where I am now,” he said.

Where is he?

He made the NDSU starting rotation as a freshman in 2010. He made nine starts, but had a rather ordinary 4-6 record and a 6.53 ERA. His sophomore year began even more unordinary when he was 0-3 as a starter.

Then came the switch.

The Bison coaches moved him to a relief role, where he won four games and broke his own school record for fewest walks per nine innings.

“At first I was a little upset,” Kingsley said. “But I wasn’t pitching that well as a starter. I really didn’t think about being in the bullpen when I started here, but now that I’m there, I’m glad I did it. It was a good change for me.”

Others agreed. He was a second team all-Summit selection as the team’s closer last year. He had a streak of 17 innings without giving up an earned run.

Not bad for a walkon.

“Kyle Kingsley is exactly what we’re looking for,” Brown said. “His major and his off-the-field habits are all off the charts. He’s a big part of our program because of his family values and his work ethic.”

His fastball, which as a freshman was in the low 80 miles-per-hour range is now consistently 85 to 88. What makes him dangerous, however, is he throws all of his off-speed pitches for strikes.

It’s up in the air if he’ll get a professional opportunity. It’s possible he could be a late-round draft pick. Independent baseball could be on the radar, Brown said.

A 40-win team last year, NDSU hasn’t had that kind of success this season and is fighting for the final berth to get into the four-team Summit League tournament. Kingsley is 0-4, but has six saves and a 2.67 ERA.

“Each year is unique,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be the same as last year and it’s had its ups and downs, but it’s been a good year.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia